Manchester United: Is Robin Van Persie, Javier Hernandez Their Best Partnership?

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Manchester United spanked Wigan Athletic 4-0 in their latest Premier League outing, leaving the Red Devils seven points clear at the top of the table and with eight wins from their last nine games.

Key to the most recent win was the partnership and goals of the two strikers on the day—Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez.

With Wayne Rooney sidelined through injury, Hernandez was given another chance to start and more than played his part against a wide-open defence, scoring twice and claiming one assist to move onto eight goals for the season, one more than his English teammate.

Dutch striker van Persie also hit a brace and has by now easily cemented his position as the team's main striker, having scored 16 goals in 21 matches in his debut season at Old Trafford. But perhaps manager Alex Ferguson now has a very real decision to make about who to partner him with.

United have varied between their usual 4-4-2 and a 4-1-2-1-2 system this season, with Shinji Kagawa deployed as the attacking midfielder when fit—though Rooney has taken this position for several games, too, to good effect.

The all-round ability and power of Rooney lends itself to ensuring the English forward still has a big impact on the game when he is in a more withdrawn role, while playing Hernandez naturally leads United to having a permanent presence in the opposition's penalty box.

Hernandez is a very good goal scorer, as evidenced by his strike rate for the campaign so far despite not playing a comparable amount to Rooney.

The Mexican striker has played barely more than half of Rooney's 1,086 Premier League minutes yet has one goal more, showing great consistency and reliability whenever he has been given an opportunity.

Hernandez averages a goal every 75 minutes of game time this season, compared to 155 minutes for Rooney. Danny Welbeck, the other senior striker, has managed a single goal in 663 minutes of football.

Not only is the rate of goals to minutes impressive, but Hernandez also maintains stunning accuracy—his 30 percent chance conversion rate is actually better than Leo Messi's (29 percent) for Barcelona.

United lost out on the title last season by virtue of goal difference, and the acquisition of van Persie in the summer was a clear indication by Ferguson that he would not risk such an event repeating itself.

Playing Javier Hernandez more regularly alongside the Dutchman seems to be the best way forward for United to keep up their terrific rate of scoring goals over the first half of the season—even at the expense of Rooney when he returns.

 

Statistical data from EPLindex.com and WhoScored.com.

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